Landmine Monitor 1999


The achievement of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction[1] has been hailed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as “a landmark step in the history of disarmament” and “a historic victory for the weak and vulnerable of our world.”[2] Developed and negotiated in just one year’s time, signed by 122 nations in Ottawa, Canada in December 1997, it has been considered a remarkable achievement by most all observers. Yet those most closely involved, both outside and inside of government, were quick to point out that the work had just begun -- mammoth tasks lay ahead, including rapid ratification by states to ensure early entry-into-force (befitting a global crisis) and universalization of the treaty (bringing recalcitrant states on board), as well as the most daunting undertakings of destroying the tens of millions of mines already in the ground, and providing adequate assistance to landmine survivors and mine-affected communities.

More than a year later, it is clear that very substantial progress is being made. The world is embracing the new, emerging international norm against the antipersonnel mine (APM). This introductory section to the first Landmine Monitor Report will give an overview of the status of universalization and ratification efforts, then look at progress on the three pillars of the ban movement: Banning Antipersonnel Mines (use, production, transfer, and stockpiling); Humanitarian Mine Action; and Survivor Assistance.


One hundred and thirty-five countries have signed or acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty as of 31 March 1999, including 13 since the Ottawa signing conference on 3-4 December 1997. Those 13 are: Zambia, Belize, São Tomé and Principe, Bangladesh, Chad, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Albania, Macedonia (which acceded), Equatorial Guinea (which acceded), Maldives, Ukraine, and Lithuania. Considering the time that this issue has been before the international community, this number of signatories is exceptional. Bangladesh was the first South Asian nation to sign, Jordan the third Middle East nation, and Ukraine the second former Soviet republic. Ukraine has the world’s fifth largest stockpile of antipersonnel mines.

Every country in the Western Hemisphere has signed except the US and Cuba, every member of the European Union except Finland, every member of NATO except the US and Turkey, 40 of the 48 countries in Africa, and key Asian nations such as Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia. Heavily mine-affected states have signed, including Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bosnia, and Croatia. Major past producers and exporters have signed, including Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Still, some fifty countries have not yet signed the treaty. This includes three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Russia, and China. It includes most of the Middle East, most of the former Soviet republics, and many Asian nations. Major producers such the US, Russia, China, India and Pakistan are not part of the treaty. Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Eritrea are the most heavily mine affected countries that have not signed. For the first two, however, there is no internationally recognized government capable of signing.

Yet, virtually all of the non-signatories have endorsed the notion of a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines at some point in time, and many have already at least partially embraced the Mine Ban Treaty. The United States reversed policy and announced in May 1998 that it would sign the treaty -- but only in 2006 and only if it is successful in developing alternatives to APMs. Russia has stated its “willingness to accede to this instrument in the foreseeable future.” China said in 1998 that it supports “the ultimate objective of comprehensive prohibition” of antipersonnel mines. Likewise, India said in 1998 that it “remains committed to the goal of the eventual elimination of landmines.”

Ratification3/Entry into Force

Seventy-one nations have ratified the Mine Ban Treaty as of 31 March 1999 -- more than half the signatories. Article 17 provides that the treaty shall enter into force on the first day of the sixth month after the 40th instrument of ratification has been officially deposited. Burkina Faso became number forty on 16 September 1998, triggering an entry into force date of 1 March 1999. This is believed to be the fastest entry into force of any major treaty ever. The exceptional pace of ratification has been due largely to the First Forty campaign of the ICBL (described below) and dedicated efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF, and governments such as Canada and Norway.

Regionally, 17 of 40 signatories in Africa have ratified; 19 of 33 in the Americas; 8 of 18 in Asia/Pacific; 24 of 39 in Europe/Central Asia; and, 3 of 5 in Middle East/North Africa.

Statements and actions on the part of several signatory countries have raised the possibility that these nations are not committed to ratifying the treaty in the near future. Among them are: Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Sudan; Colombia; Bangladesh, Brunei; Greece, Lithuania, and Poland. (See individual country studies).

The Mine Ban Treaty is now binding international law. For the first forty nations that ratified, they are now required to report to the Secretary-General on their implementation measures by 27 August 1999 (Article 7), to destroy their stockpiled mines by 1 March 2003 (Article 4), and to destroy mines in the ground in territory under their jurisdiction and control by 1 March 2009 (Article 5).

For those who were not among the first forty ratifiers, the treaty enters into force on the first day of the sixth month after the date on which that State deposited its instrument of ratification. That State is then required to make its implementation report within 180 days, destroy stockpiled mines within four years, and destroy mines in the ground within 10 years.

About Landmine Monitor

Landmine Monitor is an unprecedented initiative by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) to monitor implementation of and compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and more generally to assess the efforts of the international community to resolve the landmines crisis. It is the first time that non-governmental organizations are coming together in a coordinated, systematic and sustained way to monitor a humanitarian law or disarmament treaty, and to regularly document progress and problems.

The main elements of the Landmine Monitor system are a global reporting network, a central data base, and an annual report. Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World is the first such annual report. To prepare this report, Landmine Monitor had over eighty researchers gathering information in more than 100 countries. It is largely based on in-country research, collected by in-country researchers. Landmine Monitor has utilized the ICBL campaigning network, but has also drawn in other elements of civil society to help monitor and report, including journalists, academics and research institutions.

It should be understood that Landmine Monitor is not a technical verification system or a formal inspection regime. It is an effort by civil society to hold governments accountable to the obligations that they have taken on with regard to antipersonnel mines; this is done through extensive collection, analysis and distribution of information that is publicly available. Though in some cases it does entail investigative missions, Landmine Monitor is not designed to send researchers into harm’s way and does not include hot war-zone reporting.

Landmine Monitor is meant to complement the States Parties reporting required under Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty. It was created in the spirit of Article 7 and reflects the shared view that transparency and cooperation are essential elements to the successful elimination of antipersonnel mines. But it is also a recognition that there is a need for independent reporting and evaluation.

Landmine Monitor and its annual report aim to promote and facilitate discussion on mine-related issues, and to seek clarifications, in order to help reach the goal of a mine-free world. Landmine Monitor works in good faith to provide factual information about issues it is monitoring, in order to benefit the international community as a whole. It seeks to be critical but constructive in its analysis.

In this first annual report Landmine Monitor has attempted to establish a baseline of information from which to measure progress in alleviating the landmine crisis. Landmine Monitor Report 1999 contains information on every country of the world with respect to landmine ban policy, use, production, transfer, stockpiling, mine clearance, mine awareness, and survivor assistance. Thus, the Monitor does not only report on States Parties and their treaty obligations, it also looks at signatory states and non-signatories as well. All countries --as well as information on key players in mine action and victim assistance in the mine-affected countries --are included in this report in the belief it will provide an important means to gauge global effectiveness on mine action and banning the weapon.

We have faced a number of serious challenges in producing this initial report, first and foremost time constraints. When Landmine Monitor was launched, a decision was made to prepare the report for release at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. That date turned out to be 3 May 1999, and, due to the complexities of establishing and developing the Landmine Monitor system, the researchers were unable to begin formally their work until November 1998. Finished country reports were submitted on 1 March 1999, leaving just one month for editing and preparation of the report. We particularly regret that the extremely tight time deadlines did not allow for full synthesis and analysis of the wealth of information contained herein. This will be an ongoing task for Landmine Monitor.

Landmine Monitor should be viewed as a work in progress, a system that will be continuously updated, corrected and improved. We welcome comments, clarifications, and corrections from governments and others, in the spirit of dialogue and in the search for accurate and reliable information on a difficult subject. Some of the country studies contained herein are extraordinarily detailed, containing much more information than ever before assembled. Others are quite scant, and await further development. It is hoped that with a baseline established by this report, Landmine Monitor will be able to fill the gaps in future reports. Landmine Monitor will also in the future evaluate the reporting of States Parties under Article 7, and as such, will provide a mechanism to seek formal clarifications on a state-to-state basis.

The Establishment of Landmine Monitor

In June 1998 in Oslo, Norway, the ICBL formally agreed to create Landmine Monitor as an ICBL initiative. A Core Group was established to develop and coordinate the Landmine Monitor system and to produce its first report. The Core Group consists of Human Rights Watch, Handicap International, Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid. Overall responsibility for, and decision-making on, the Landmine Monitor system rests with the Core Group.

A key meeting was held in September 1998 in Dublin, Ireland, in which NGOs from within and outside the ICBL and others met to exchange information, assess what research and data gathering had already taken place, identify gaps, and develop common research methods and reporting mechanisms for the Monitor. The Work Plan developed at the Dublin meeting set out the production schedule for the first annual report of Landmine Monitor.

Shortly after Dublin, research application forms were circulated soliciting country researchers for the first report and in late October, the Core Group met in Brussels to consider research grant applications. Decisions were made, researchers identified, and the research began.

In early December in Ottawa, Landmine Monitor researchers discussed their initial findings. Key documents designed to guide and refine the research were circulated. For the next three months, the researchers collected and analyzed information, and wrote their reports, and by early February 1999, over one hundred draft research reports were submitted to the Landmine Monitor Core Group for review and comment.

At the beginning of March, Monitor researchers met again in Oslo to present their reports and discuss their main findings through a peer review process. Throughout March, a small team of editors at Human Rights Watch verified sources, edited and assembled the entire report. Landmine Monitor Report 1999 also includes appendices with reports from major actors in the mine ban movement, such as key governments, UN agencies and the ICRC. This report was printed during April and released at the First Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo, Mozambique in early May 1999.



[1]The ICBL generally uses the short title, Mine Ban Treaty, though other short titles are common as well, including Ottawa Convention and Ottawa Treaty.

[2]UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Address to the Signing Ceremony of the Antipersonnel Mines Convention, Ottawa, Canada, 3 December 1997.

[3]Throughout this report, the term ratification is used as a short-hand for “consent to be bound.” The treaty allows governments to give consent to be bound in a variety of ways, including ratification, acceptance, approval or accession -- all of which give binding legal status beyond signature.